Madrid is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the best cities in Spain to go for tapas. Madrid is not only the capital but also one of the most vibrant and friendly cities in Spain where people love to get together around a cold beer, some typical tapas and lots of good vibes… welcome to Madrid!
It would be totally inaccurate to come up with a short list of the best tapas bars in Madrid but, hey, I got you reading this post! In Madrid you will find a surprising tapas bar in every corner, from a sophisticated gastrobar to a modest bar serving the best tortilla for over a century!
Also, going for tapas or living the “arte del tapeo” is a philosophy of life in Spain, a national sport by itself so in Madrid, like anywhere else, people are very critical when it comes to tapas… However, I have created a list of what to me, and my local friends, are the best tapas. On this list you won’t find the most famous or the poshest tapas bar in Madrid, neither the top bars according to a popular travel guide but instead you will find a list of tapas bars that are simply the best according to locals. Enjoy Madrid from a real Spanish Perspective!
La Taberna del Chato. Best for innovative tapas
Calle de la Cruz, 25 Madrid Monday-Thursday: 7:00 pm to 1:00 am Friday: 7:00 pm to 2:30 am Saturday: 12:00 pm to 4:30 pm and 7:00 pm to 2:30 am
Centrally located, this is a new tapas bar but more than a bar, la Taberna del Chato is a concept. The food menu is fun, innovative, surprising and of the highest standards and so is the presentation and decor. La Taberna del Chato is what we call in Spain a gastrobar with a twist: all the tapas are served in chato glasses. From croquetas to a sweet flan or eggs on fries, everything must fit into a chato glass (well you can also order raciones). I love the fact that you can taste sophisticated tapas in individual glasses and for such affordable prices! You can seat at the bar or comfortably in the dining area. I can guarantee that you will have fun discovering the tapas menu at la Taberna del Chato.. just make sure your smart phone is fully charged because their tapas are heavy instagram material!
Cilantro. Best for all day food
General Álvarez de Castro, 7. Madrid Monday - Thursday: 8:00-1:00 Friday: 8:00-2:00 Saturday: 9:00-2:00 Sunday: 9:00-17:30
This is, once again, a modern and sophisticated good gastrobar in Madrid. Don’t forget that Spanish people love mixing tradition with modernity and, that being said, it is not surprising that the best restaurant in the world is in Spain. Madrid, like Barcelona, are very faithful to their traditions especially when it comes to food, however you will notice that the most successful restaurants and tapas bars in Spain serve revisited traditional dishes in a modern and minimalistic decor… está de moda! Cilantro is the type of tapas bar that everybody agrees on as it serves from traditional ham platters to fancy pintxos but also yummy salads and good quality wines. This one of this good bars where you can meet at any time, even for a freshly baked breakfast and always get good quality food, nice ambiance along with a good drink.
Txirimiri. Best for Basque pintxos
C/ Humilladero, 6 Non-stop from 12pm to 12am
The great thing about going for tapas in Madrid is that you can sample traditional food from all over Spain. Txirimiri is, indeed, a Basque tapas bar that specialises in pintxos, the typical tapas that you will see all over the counters when you visit, for example, San Sebastian (a slice of fresh baguette topped with anything the chef decides). Even though Txirimiri is now a brand with 4 bars in Madrid, every single tapas bar is unique and serves the best pintxos I ever had (a part from those I ate in San Sebastian). This is a vibrant, lively and buzzing bar where people meet-up for casual drinks and tapas! The portions are very generous and the prices very reasonable. I would advise to visit the one in La Latina neighborhood!
Sala de despecie. Best for meat (& fresh products) lovers
Ponzano 11, 28010, Madrid Monday - Thursday: 13:00h to 17:00h. / 19:30h. to 00:30h. Friday: 13:00h. to 17:00h. / 19:30h. to 01:00h. Saturday: 13:00h. to 18:00h. / 20:00h. to 01:30h. Sunday: 13:00h. to 18:00h.
If you are a big fan of the freshest products and you love your meat then don’t waist anymore time and head straight to the Sala de despecie. Literary meaning The cutting house, the whole bar is conceived around the butcher theme from the open kitchen to the products display and the waiters uniform. The decoration, like the menu are simple, noble and of the highest quality. But this is also a great spot for those that don’t eat meat because the Sala de despecie also offers the catch of the day and the freshest veggies from Navarra. Although this won’t be considered a traditional tapas bar by many, I though I would mention this tapas bar for those that would love to taste some of the freshest Spanish sourced products. Eating at the Sala de despecie is almost like picking-up your food from the market stall… qué bueno!
Entre Caceres y Badajoz. Best for traditional Spanish
Calle de Don Ramón de la Cruz, 109 Open everyday from 7am to 5pm and from 7pm to 1am
Now we are talking! Entre Caceres y Badajoz is exactly what any Spanish would expect from his local tapas bar. For instance, this traditional tapas bar serves VERY generous portions, a traditional yet attractive tapas menu, great prices and most importantly, a relaxed ambiance. Because of the huge portions, variety of tapas and, of course, great prices this traditional is very popular within locals so I would advise you to arrive early. What I love about this bar is that despite its popularity it has kept low prices, high quality and this traditional habit that many parts of Spain still having of serving a free tapa of the day for free when you buy a drink. Some people don’t even order food.. they just keep drinking cañas and, listos! they have eaten enough! I think that if you love traditional Spain you will also enjoy the decoration which is bullfighting inspired: wine barrels, a toro’s head on the wall etc etc.. que viva España!
Bodega la Artosa. Best for beers and tortilla
Calle Colón, 13, 28004 Madrid Monday - Friday: 08:30am to 02:00am Weekends: 11:45am to 02:30am
You can’t leave Madrid without paying a visit to a traditional Bodega (wine cellar) and this is one in particular is certainly one of the best in town! La Bodega la Artosa was founded in 1892 and has kept its original wood panels and, I am sure, the same recipes as well. This Bodega is located in the trendy Malasaña neighborhood so expect lots of people during the weekend. To me La Bodega la Artosa has it all: heritage, traditional charm, location and some tapas to die for like the salmonejo, the croquetas and the tortilla (voted the 5th best tortilla in Spain). Locals love going to this Bodega not so much for the variety of tapas but for the quality. Despite the name (cellar) this Bodega in Malasaña is very frequented by beer connoisseurs as they have a good range of imported crafts and proudly hold the oldest Guiness tap in Madrid. However you can still enjoy a beautiful vermouth, a quality glass of vino tinto (red wine) along with a delicious piece of Spanish omelette. How does it sound to you?
Mareas Vivas. Best for traditional Galician food
Calle de Veneras, 3, 28013, Madrid Tuesday - Sunday: 8am to 12am.
This is one of this hidden gem that locals love keeping to themselves… until a food blogger happens to stop by and the word is out! I totally understand why this bar doesn’t even have a website or even an attractive front door: the secret of their success relays only on their food and friendly service. Mareas Vivas is a Galician bar in the Callao neighborhood that offers traditional, comfort tapas from Galicia. So if you want to eat tapas and drink some beers like a local without the fussiness then this is your bar! What to expect? Well, for a start a free tapa with every drink (personally I am already in!), amazing home-made traditional tapas, lots of sea-food raciones and tapas to chose from, huge portions, great pints and authenticity, lots of authenticity! If you want to impress your date or dine sophisticated then don’t go to Mareas Vivas because this is just a modest around the corner bar (oh, if they could all be like this!) perfect for a relaxed evening with your friends. Alternatively you can also dine traditional Galician in their dining room.
Docamar. Best for patatas bravas
C/ Alcalá, 337, 28027 Madrid Every day except Wednesday from 8am to 12am
This is simply the Bravas bar! Tacked away from the city center yet easly accessible from Las Ventas this is, once again, a local’s favourite tapas bar. Many Madrileños refer to Docamar as the Bravas bar as it is believed they served the best patatas bravas in town! The ambiance is very friendly, relaxed and super lively on weekends. If you want to experience a tapas bar and enjoy an evening in Madrid exactly like a local then you must pay a visit to this tapas bar. If it is warm you can enjoy all your tapas (and beers) on their terrace. Prices are ridiculously affordable and the food menu features traditional and modern raciones, plates and tapas. If you are looking for a more formal evening you can also ask to be seatted in the dining area inside. Come on, you can’t leave Madrid without tasting what locals call the best Bravas in town!
Gabinoteca. Best for a night out
Calle de Fernández de la Hoz, 53, Madrid Monday - Friday: 1.30pm - 2am Weekends: 1.30pm - 2.30am
This gastropub is one of local’s favourite tapas bar in Madrid for special occasions. For instance, the Gabinoteca is rather a sophisticated and modern restaurant perfect if you are looking for something different and more up-market. Even if this is now a very well-known address in town I would not hesitate one second to recommend it to anyone seeking for a memorable evening in Madrid. The interior is simply amazing, expect to enter a funky, surprising and avant-garde universe with an elegant touch. The restaurant has two floors, the lower one being a basement. As you would expect from a good gastrobar in Madrid the food menu is top-notch marrying excellent products like foie-gras with creativity. Presentation is key; you could be served a fried egg into a Dim Sum basket, your main course in a preserve jar, your bread on a wood basket etc etc… I would totally recommend the Gabinoteca to anyone that is looking for a vibrant a different night in town. Don’t go to the Gabinoteca for the food only (I wouldn’t rate this bar among the top 3 gastronomic bars in Madrid) but take the great food as part of a bigger experience and enjoy your evening like a real local!
I hope this list gives you some inspiration to enjoy Madrid like a local. If you get to try one of what I think are the best tapas bars according to locals don’t hesitate to comment on this post or on our Facebook page!